Voynich manuscript – a possible step closer to being deciphered?

The Voynich manuscript is an old manuscript, believed to be from the 15th century, which has so far not been deciphered. No one knows quite where it originates from and no one has been able to determine if the writings are code, pure gibberish, or a language no lingustics experts or historians are familiar with.

But perhaps we are closer to finding out the secret now? A new report is published The American Botanical Council’s journal HerbalGram.

Mexican plants could break code on gibberish manuscript.

Previously, many researchers assumed that the manuscript must have originated in Europe, where it was found. But botanist Arthur Tucker of Delaware State University in Dover noticed similarities between certain plants in the manuscript and illustrations of plants in 16th century records from Mexico.

Tucker began collecting copies of Mexican botanical books out of curiosity about the history of herbs there. “Quite by accident, I ran across the Voynich and it was a Homer Simpson moment of D’oh! Of course –this matches my other codices and the artwork of 16th century Mexico.”

The most striking example was an illustration of a soap plant (xiuhamolli) in a Mexican book dated 1552. Tucker and Rexford Talbert, a retired information technology researcher at the US Department of Defense and NASA, connected a total of 37 of the 303 plants, six animals and one mineral illustrated in the Voynich manuscript to 16th century species in the region that lies between Texas, California and Nicaragua. They think many of the plants could have come from what is now central Mexico.

On the basis of these similarities, the pair suggests that the manuscript came from the New World, and that it might be written in an extinct form of the Mexican language Nahuatl. Deciphering the names of these plants could therefore help crack the Voynich code.

Of course, due to the controversial nature and debate about the Voynich manuscript (which has been going on for a century) there are skeptics out there. Gordon Rugg of Keele University in the UK and Alain Touwaide from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. both think it’s quite possible this is either coincidence and that the Voynich manuscript is indeed just an eloborate hoax (which seems to be the prevalent theory among academics and historians). Both men say it would have been easy to forge drawings of plants that would resemble something found in nature. “It’s pretty good odds that you’ll find plants in the world that happen to look like the Voynich manuscript just by chance”, Rugg said.

Arthur Tucker does agree it is still a possibility the Voynich manuscript is a hoax and there is still work to be done to determine the truth about it.

Photo credit: Beinecke Library

Photo credit: Beinecke Library

View the manuscript itself here: Voynich Manuscript | Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

For more:

Has the Voynich Manuscript Mystery Been Solved? | PARANORMAL PEOPLE.

Voynich manuscript: Nonsense gibberish or pattern of gibberish?

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  7 comments for “Voynich manuscript – a possible step closer to being deciphered?

  1. BobM
    February 5, 2014 at 3:32 PM

    I know that the documentary channels on cable TV are now cesspits of woo, but there was a documentary some time ago showing pretty much how you could create a manuscript similar to that using simple calculations and bits of card. Exactly what the purpose of creating such a thing would be I can’t remember, possibly because it’s such a ridiculous thing to do in our terms. But the past IS another country so….

    • eddi
      February 7, 2014 at 8:13 AM

      It not too hard to understand the why of making such a thing. Money. A well-designed hoax aimed at the right buyer could be profitable. And well worth the work. I guess in that respect, past and present aren’t all that far apart.

  2. February 5, 2014 at 8:27 PM

    I’ve done the comparisons of plant pictures w/ plant photos – it may work somewhat (the ‘pepper’ example) but so far I’ve gotten nowhere. I wish them the best though.

  3. gewsin
    February 5, 2014 at 9:35 PM

    I’ve been under the impression the last few years that linguists were in pretty good agreement that it is gibberish (regardless of whether it was intentional or not) because the text defies any known rules of human language. Am I forgetting or missing something? Was there some evidence to refute the gibberish conclusion? Or did I simply misunderstand the conclusions?

  4. Blargh
    February 6, 2014 at 8:08 PM

    For those of you playing at home, the Voynich Manuscript is available in its entirety on archive.org. It’s worth having a look at, no matter what you think of its potential hoax status.

  5. February 7, 2014 at 10:46 AM

    No botanist has looked at this? How can that be? And even if the writing is gibberish, it will be patterned, as any long set of human-made figures/symbols is patterned, and languages/language families can be ruled out. If no one has bothered lately, it’s pretty safe to bet it’s a hoax.

  6. March 23, 2014 at 3:28 AM

    The Voynich Manuscript is no longer a mystery. For more see http://www.voynich-manuskript.de. Alsa available in English.

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